NYRR has “capitulated”. Runners in the marathon will have the option, which must be exercised this month, to either bring a bag as before or go bagless and get a poncho, a t-shirt, and a quick exit from the Park. I don’t know the extent to which NYRR capitulated. It may be that it was the City that did. I give NYRR credit for understanding that the no-baggage approach did not make a lot of sense. While Brenn pointed out on the New York Running Show that there is something to be said for that approach — specifically that for many getting a poncho shortly after the finish is preferable to having to slog for who-knows-how-long to get their own bag — I think allowing baggage (for both the front- and the back-ends) is the way to go, and if the field is too large to allow it because of congestion then the field should be shrunk.
NYRR does warrant severe criticism, though, in that it apparently knew the no-baggage policy was an option well before people had to enter yet said nothing. (It was, for example, reportedly the topic of a Club Council meeting.) By not saying that there was the possibility that there would be no-baggage before people entered although it knew of that possibility, NYRR was wrong. In stock-market terms, there was a failure to disclose a known risk factor, particularly since so far as I can tell NYRR has always had baggage-check for all of its races. Tell people there’s a chance; let them decide. This was deceptive by NYRR and it, especially its lawyer president, should have known better.
Second, NYRR’s refusal to allow refunds. Our policy is “NO REFUNDS”. Yet for many, the no-baggage policy was a material change in the terms pursuant to their agreeing to enter. If one agrees to buy a car with air conditioning and gets a call a week before the delivery that it has no air conditioning, the seller can’t say “NO REFUNDS”. I don’t want to get lawyerly here, but the statement of the policy and the manner in which it was said was wrong as well.
Who knows what’ll happen in 2013. People, at least, are warned. In all of the thanks-NYRR-for-listening noise, these additional things should be kept in mind.